Another interview that’s a Stretch… by Neal Pollack

An interview with “bong-hitting, bad boy of yoga, Neal Pollack, is a daunting assignment. Although I had never heard of him until this assignment, my giggle-o-meter had been tickled by reading articles like  “this one and this one was particularly good. Also this one... ” Nope, I hadn’t read his book, Stretch, nor has he practiced yoga on a Plank mat. Touché. However after reading this article and this article and enjoying our interview, see below… Mr Pollack is serious about his yoga practice and from his writings, serious about his humour,  (obviously, an interview match made in heaven). Let’s see from my scrawl, if I can find out why…

The Well Heeled Guru: When did you start your practice and why?

Neal Pollack: Like most people who stumble into yoga, the road that gets you to the mat isn’t often pleasant, I was living the life of Rock n Roller/Writer doing the Rock n Roll thing, with less fans and the typical Rock n Roll drug use… I didn’t have a fitness regime per say, I’d use the elliptical machine, but didn’t enjoy it. No yoga practice either, it showed, as someone from the New York Times described me, as a doughie, white boy. That was the onset of a downward spiral of resentment and depression. Fortunately for me, my wife suggested to try yoga and that was it.

TWHG: What do you remember about your first experience that made you want to come back to the mat?

NP: At first I felt all those things you feel, when start something new, uncomfortable and extremely hairy, I was the only male person in class. It was a gentle class at the 24hour gym where we were members. For the first time, in a long time, I felt calm and good about myself, that was reason enough, to keep coming back to class.

TWHG: What style of yoga do you teach?

NP: I studied Ashtanga with Richard Freeman, in Boulder, Colorado. How I define the Ashtanga yoga practice, as being in the Yoga Army. You drill hard. You Asana hard. You work hard all day long. For me, I loved the training and regiment of the practice but it is too enervating for a daily practice. What I actually teach, is what I actually can do, that’s all a teacher can really teach.

TWHG to self and out loud: Enervating, what does that mean?

NP: Energetic.

Thesaurus: Weaken. Debilitate. Sap Strength.

TWHG: So humour and yoga…

NP: For me, humour helps my yoga practice to stay grounded, at the end of the day, it really is quite absurd to be a room full of people grasping at trying to find enlightenment, in such an old fashioned way. At the end of the day, if yoga is something that helps make your day a little easier, there’s got to be some good there. It’s a recipe with a lot of ingredients that enables people to ALL be together, sitting calmly.

TWHG: Do you meditate?

NP: Every day for 20-30 minutes.

TWHG: REALLY (high pitched voice)

NP: Yes, if you’re bored, you might as well be bored and sit still with skill… OMG, I can’t believe that I’m talking about yoga and meditation so enthusiastically, this is not where I thought I would be a few years ago.

TWHG: What is your perspective when talking about yoga?

NP: I’m a goofball, who practices yoga. I disdain new agey, corporations. I talk about farting, being stoned, boarding. All this stuff makes me a better teacher, cos when I see someone in class after a heavy night, I’ve been there, I know how to talk to them.

TWHG: Back to being funny. Your wife appears to be secure, was a couch used for the casting of the commercial for Stretch and what did the classified state?

NP: Yes she is and my practice does make her being secure a lot easier. I do like women, it is a nice side benefit, however if I was to go to class for the Hot Yoga Babes, as the main draw, I would need to re-evaluate why I am going to class. For me, yoga de-sexualises and de-objectifies the genders. As for the classified for the Stretch Ad, I don’t remember seeing it.

TWHG: Seriously. Well it must have been fun to do and your mates must have thought you were The Man?

NP: I just don’t hang out with those kinds of guys. Sure, they thought the video was funny, but no one came up to me and said way to go or bought me a beer because of it…

TWHG to self: Seriously…

TWHG: So tell me about your PR Person, does he/she ever give you a good idea?

NP: My imaginary PR Person, is where I shed light on the ridiculousness of the requests I am asked to write about and that there are people who are a) willing to write that crap for b) people who will eat that crap up. It makes for great Twitter fodder…

TWHG: (Time to own up) So I haven’t read Stretch, what’s it about?

It’s a non fiction, Dude comedy about the yoga culture.  A guy who stumbles into the world of yoga and becomes enlightened, sort of. The sequel, is after becoming enlightened, it is my adventure into Happiness and what it means to be happy. It’s kind of like, as if David Sedaris was to write a self help book. That’s me, David with less hair and success.

TWHG to self: I thought he said he was hairy…

TWHG to you: Rave reviews, so go buy lots of books…

TWHG: (Own up time Again) Your profile photo, what’s up with the insipid lilac yoga mat for your profile shot?

NP: What mat? Oh that one, I was visiting a friend in Austin and that was the only mat she had.

TWHG: So what’s next for Yoga’s Funny Man?

NP: I’ve organised a Yoga Day for April 10th as a fundraiser for my son’s Charter School, there’s a whole host of events and workshops going on. I’ll be teaching and reading from the book, so come down…  and watch out for my new novel and future yoga events and classes.

People who are funny, make me go funny-eyed and weak-at-the-knees. Where many-a woman will drool at a perfectly chiselled ab, I, on the other hand, laugh, guffaw, snort, squeal, fall off my seat, at a perfectly delivered punch line. When thrown into a surreal conversational context, in this case, The Blind Interview, i.e. I’m not sure why I’m interviewing you, but it was highly recommended, as you appear to have a lot in common, my nervousness and expectations of ROFL moments may not have done Mr. Pollack’s writings and observations justice. What I do know is, that if  I was in his neck of the woods, I would definitely want to check out anywhere he’s doing a reading and class. My suggestion du jour… What can be more In Union, i.e. Yoga, than experiencing and sharing the plight of many an ageing, sweaty and hairy smartarse blokes… who are working on leaving their farts and egos, at the door…

TWHG, an audacious expert in all things, shoes + heels + fitting yoga into a busy lifestyle…

Check out Neal’s Yoga Day on Sunday April 10th. Be there. Kids in tow too.


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